Ice sheets melting more rapidly / News / The Foreigner

Ice sheets melting more rapidly. UPDATED: Ice on Greenland and in the Antarctic is melting at a higher rate than previously thought, scientists in Germany say. Greenpeace Norway warn of a considerable rise in sea levels. The Norwegian government encourages speedy action. According to their report, better accuracy regarding the ice caps’ height and thickness shows ice is melting “at an unprecedented rate”. Created with an instrument on an orbiting satellite called CryoSat-2, their data has an altitude precision to within a few meters.

climate, co2, ice, melting, polar, antarctic, greenland



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Ice sheets melting more rapidly

Published on Wednesday, 3rd September, 2014 at 10:08 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Manisha Choudhari   .
Last Updated on 4th September 2014 at 13:51.

UPDATED: Ice on Greenland and in the Antarctic is melting at a higher rate than previously thought, scientists in Germany say. Greenpeace Norway warn of a considerable rise in sea levels. The Norwegian government encourages speedy action.

A view of Antartica's ice sheet and mountains
Antarctic ice measurements show the melting speed is quicker. This picture was taken in 2013.A view of Antartica's ice sheet and mountains
Photo: NASA/Christy Hansen/Wikimedia Commons


According to their report, better accuracy regarding the ice caps’ height and thickness shows ice is melting “at an unprecedented rate”.

Created with an instrument on an orbiting satellite called CryoSat-2, their data has an altitude precision to within a few meters.

“Since 2009, the volume loss in Greenland has increased by a factor of about two, and the West Antarctic ice sheet by a factor of three,” website Climate News Network quotes Angelika Humbert, one of the document’s authors, as saying.

Dr Veit Helm and other glaciologists at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research conclude both regions’ ice sheets are losing 500 cubic kilometers (almost 120 cubic miles) annually.

Their report is published in journal The Cryosphere.

CryoSat-2 is the European Space Agency’s orbiting satellite. Its radar altimeter broadcasted 61 million measurements of Antarctica, and 7.5 million measurements of Greenland in 2012.

This helped the glaciologists work with a set of steady measurements from a single instrument.

Researchers collected measurements over a three-year period to study how the ice sheets changed by comparing them with those prepared by NASA’s ICESat mission - involving 200 million measurements in Antarctica and more than 14 million in Greenland.

Scientists also state in the report that the ice in Greenland is reducing at a rate of 375 cubic kilometers a year (just under 90 cubic miles).

Precisely defining the situation in the Antarctic is more complex, however, as the ice sheet in West Antarctica is losing ice quickly, but the volume in East Antarctica is increasing.

Overall, the southern continent is losing 125 cubic kilometers (just under 30 cubic miles) a year. 98 percent of this area is covered with ice and snow.

These are the highest rates seen since researchers commenced making satellite observations two decades ago.

"These findings might be the alarm bells that are needed to get governments to understand the urgency to start acting on climate change, but are also a dramatic sign that the window for “safe landing” is closing rapidly," Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway tells The Foreigner in an email.

He adds that global sea levels will rise by 6 meters (some 19.7 feet) should the Greenland ice shelf collapse.

“If these findings [in the report] are borne out, then it is not good news. While most sea-level rise in the 21st century is currently expected to come from the oceans warming, rather than from ice melt, an ice sheet collapse would create major difficulties in the future centuries,” Dr Ilan Kelman, former Senior Research Fellow at CICERO (Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo) says.

Tine Sundtoft, the Norwegian government’s Minister of Climate and Environment, comments that Nowhere do we see the impacts of climate change more evident than here in the Arctic. This has been very well documented in the latest report for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The region is warming two times faster than the global mean”

“We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward tipping points of which impacts may be very dramatic.  The sooner we act, the lower the risk and cost. That is why Norway is pushing for an ambitious global climate agreement.”

Whaling, exploring, and oil nation Norway has a research station in the Antarctic called Troll.

“If we disregard natural Arctic variability, we’re past the point where the Arctic is melting and having an effect on the atmosphere, but we don’t know what the impact on Scandinavia going to be yet,” Bjørn H. Samset, senior research fellow at CICERO says.

“What is likely is more unpredictable weather. Any global climate agreement has to contain a combination of climate mitigation and climate adaption.”




Published on Wednesday, 3rd September, 2014 at 10:08 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Manisha Choudhari   .
Last updated on 4th September 2014 at 13:51.

This post has the following tags: climate, co2, ice, melting, polar, antarctic, greenland.





  
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